Tony climbed up onto the oversized bar stool like it was Mount fucking Everest. The table top wobbled alarmingly and a bit of his coffee sloshed over onto the scarred wood surface. Bucky, on the other hand, did the lift and scoot thing, where he balanced neatly on the rung of the stool with the heel of his shoe.
Unfair that Tony always had to be attracted to tall men.
Also unfair that he’d never actually had his order served in the shop; he got his coffee to go most of the time, and when he didn’t, it was because he was talking to someone on the phone and he usually paced around, rather than sitting. Which meant he hadn’t known that he was going to have to climb the table like a damn tree.
“So, second date,” Tony said, when he finally got up there and situated, trying not to knock the table with his knee and lose any more of his coffee. “I mean, we’re counting this as the second date, right, and not, like, the first one?”
Bucky waved a hand negligently. “If we’re counting any of these as dates,” he said.
“Asshole ex-to-be still hasn’t called you back?”
“Well, does it really count as breaking up if someone else did it for me, in a voice mail message?” Bucky winced, looking vaguely ashamed. “Power move? Or being a damn coward?” He ran his hand through that thick, shiny hair. Vaguely oily, softer than it looked; Tony remembered exactly how it had felt to card his fingers through it.
“Well, it’s a breakup, right?”
“We are definitely broken up,” Bucky said. “Even if Brock wanted me back at this point, I’m pretty sure I don’t want him anymore.”
“Only fools are positive,” Tony said.
“Are you sure about that?”
He couldn’t help the grin that spread across his face. “Positive.”
“Well, that was the soft ball set up for your terrible sense of humor,” Bucky said. “Good going.”
“Thanks, I didn’t want to make things too difficult for you. I mean, if you’re not going to straight man for my jokes, what good are you?”
“Given that I’m not a straight man at all,” Bucky said, “there’s lots of things I’m good for.” He licked his lip, before returning his attention to his coffee cup.
“God, that’s evil,” Tony complained, knowing exactly what that mouth had felt like, wanting to feel it again, and not just that, but liking the way Bucky was looking at him, coy and flirty, and a little bit shy all at once. It was a complete head rush.
“You should probably know that about me,” Bucky said.
“That you’re an unrepentant flirt?”
“No,” Bucky said. “Well, yes, that too. But that I’m done… pretending to be someone I’m not. I’m not… with Brock, whenever he upset me, I just took it. Hell, I practically offered him the other cheek to slap. So. You should just… what you see is what you get.”
That was abruptly honest, and the way Bucky was looking, like he thought Tony was going to hop off the bar stool and run screaming, was painful. “So, what am I looking at? Tell me, in a few sentences, who is Bucky-- What the hell is your last name, anyway?”
“Barnes,” he said. “Technically, it’s James Barnes.”
“Jim didn’t appeal?”
Bucky shrugged. “I met most of my current group of friends when I was seventeen. My best friend still called me Bucky, and it didn’t occur to me to object. Now… I just own it. So, who am I?” He scratched at his chin.
“Uh, my basic dating profile, if I had one. I work in marketing. It’s not very exciting, except when it is. I got my degree in Russian Studies and a minor in computer science. I’m good at analytics, which is how I ended up in marketing, it was kind of an accident. I actually started as a document librarian, translating Russian.”
“Well, that’s what you do,” Tony said. “Doesn’t tell me much about who you are.”
“Uh, let’s see. I was a lightweight boxer for a while, welterweight champion in my division,” Bucky said. “I have three sisters, and because that wasn’t enough, I adopted my best friend as his second parent-slash-older brother. Single mom, he was a pretty sickly kid, so I took care of him. I… like to do that. Take care of people. Cook for them, make sure they’re comfortable. I have a hard time saying no when people ask me for help. I almost never have any cash because I give it away to people sitting on street corners. I do volunteer work for events -- cancer research 5ks and stuff. They always want someone to man a water station or whatever. I do that.
“My favorite book is The Left Hand of Darkness and I hate Game of Thrones, which makes me decidedly unpopular with my lunch group, sometimes. Is that enough information, or should I keep talking about myself?”
Tony shook his head and laughed. “You know, I almost wish I had a recording of that,” he said. “I’ve been recently described as a textbook case narcissist, so it’s nice to know that I can let other people talk, once in a while.”
Bucky studied him over the rim of his coffee cup. “Unless you’re really good at hiding it, I disagree. That--” he jerked his chin back toward the coffee bar, where Darcy was working hard at pretending she wasn’t eavesdropping. “--was not the actions of a classic narcissist. Which is why I decided we could have a second date.”
“I don’t, you know, do this, usually.” Tony swirled his coffee in the bottom of his cup, then gulped the hot, bitter liquid like it was a lifeline.
“What, drink coffee? I got the impression you did that rather a lot, actually,” Bucky said.
“No, I mean… date. Like a normal person.”
“What do not-normal people do?” Bucky seemed honestly curious. “I thought most people did the coffee shops and the bar hookups and the swipe lefts.”
“Is your passport up to date?”
“Huh? Um, yeah, not that, like I’ve used it, but my company makes us keep them up, just in case we have to visit clients. I haven’t gotten any clients out of the country yet, but it could happen.”
“Great. Want to go to Paris for breakfast?”
“Now?” Bucky almost choked on his coffee.
“Sure, why not? We’d get there around eight in the morning, Paris time.”
“Fun as that sounds,” Bucky said, cautiously, “I have work tomorrow.”
“You asked what not-normal people did,” Tony said. “I’ve been known to do that. But coffee is nice, too.”
Bucky sat his cup down on the table and leaned on his elbows. “Are you shitting me right now?”
“No,” Tony said. “If you said yes, we could be on a plane… probably in an hour, although it might take a while to get in the air, not having filed a flight plan before this morning. Why, are you reconsidering?” He wasn’t sure what he’d do if Bucky said yes. Well, no, that was a lie. Tony knew exactly what he’d do, which was get on the phone with Pepper and get them ready to go to France. He’d introduce Bucky to the mile-high club and wine and dine and impress the shit out of him.
Because money always impressed, even when Tony didn’t manage it. France might even make up for the sin of screwing up the name thing.
“No,” Bucky said. “I mean, yes, it sounds great, but I do have two major conference calls tomorrow, and I don’t want to dump my co-workers with my load, unless it’s an actual emergency.”
“Missing out on a French pastry breakfast is an emergency,” Tony pointed out.
Bucky laughed. “Okay, tell you what. You let me pick the third date, and if we’re still on speaking terms afterward, we can do France. When I have a week or so to get my plate cleared to be able to take some vacation.”
“You’ve got yourself a deal,” Tony said, because that cleared him for four dates. Four dates was actually getting really close to having a relationship. Well, a dating relationship. He wasn’t actually sure what the etiquette was, or even if there was any etiquette, but more dates was good, right?
“You don’t have to,” Bucky said, suddenly. “I mean, if you’re worried about what Darcy said. I’d be just as happy to make you breakfast.”
Tony couldn’t help but grin at that. A breakfast date usually meant sleeping over. He was pretty sure he knew that part of it. He’d had a few date-mates who made him omelettes in the morning. He, on the other hand, was a terrible cook, and it took him like three hours to figure out how to make eggs. And they certainly didn’t do the neat fold-over like he saw in the pictures. “Do you make French pastries?”
“No, I make waffles, though,” Bucky said.
“Okay, so… we’re doing this, then?”
“Dating. As a… third date.”
“Well, second date is a little early to be picking out curtains or anything,” Bucky said. “So yeah, I guess we are. Going on a third date.”
Tony smiled, felt it stretching his face so wide that his cheeks ached. “You sound like you have something in mind.”
“I do,” Bucky said. “I mean, I never did it with Brock, so that’s a point in its favor. You already know about my terrible ex, and I don’t want to be comparing you to him-- you’d come out ahead, by the way. But I don’t want to, you know, go to places I used to go, or anything.”
“Well, I always wanted to,” Bucky said, ducking his chin and looking adorably shy. He really needed to stop doing that, because Tony was more than halfway in puppylove as it was, and every time Bucky shot him that particular look, Tony was just falling deeper.
He already knew that hitting the ground was going to hurt.
Fuck it. Tony was all in. “So, what is it?”